Ms. Minn. Universal shares anti-bullying message
EDGERTON -- As the recently crowned Ms. Minnesota Universal, Kaila Meier is looking forward to helping kids and teaching the public about her platform, bullying.
Though Meier started modeling when she was 17, she said she never dreamed she would have a title as big as Ms. Minnesota Universal.
With her dark skin and green eyes, Meier said her unique look is what the judges first noticed.
To be considered for the competition, Meier sent in a portfolio and completed an interview.
"I was nominated in September. I've been in other pageants before, but this is the biggest one that I've been in," she said.
A 2002 graduate of Pipestone, Meier said she experienced bullying while she was going through school, and that her platform was an easy choice and is something she feels strongly about.
"I got made fun of in school, and I can relate to a lot of the stuff that kids go through," she said.
To promote her platform, Kaila will be working with students, churches and other groups to spread awareness and inspire kids and help those suffering from bullying.
"I've been going to a lot of local schools. I'm going to be going to the Marshall area too," she said.
Even though she received her title in January, Meier said she already noticed that as a title holder, people treat her differently and she recognizes that she is a role model for young girls.
Meier also wants to encourage other girls that regardless of where they are from, they can follow their dream.
"It doesn't matter what your outside appearance is, it's who you are on the inside that matters and that determines who you will be," she said.
She added that it's a big deal for someone from the area to receive the title and that no one from southwest Minnesota has ever been in this competition before.
"I'm doing it for people to know that it doesn't matter who you are or where you come from, anything is possible," Meier said.
To prepare for the June 15 pageant in Fort Collins, Colo., Meier has been meeting with coaches and pageantry and beauty experts.
"I have a lot of training to do," she said. "I have to learn the proper way to eat -- both nutrition and which fork to use. I'll be working on my walk and how I talk."
Meier has even been strengthening her ankles to prepare herself to walk in heels nine hours a day by wearing weights.
Meier will be rooming with Ms. Hawaii and will be in Fort Collins for 12 days doing volunteer work, completing interviews and other pageant activities.
Meier is employed at Deb's Healing Massage and Day Spa, Worthington, and will soon be managing a medical spa, located in the same building and scheduled to open soon.
To help with the pageant, Meier has received sponsorship from multiple local businesses.
"A lot of them are spas in the area," Meier said.
For the competition, Meier will be judged on four categories: opening number, interview, evening gown and swimsuit.
If crowned Ms. USA Universal, Kaila will go on to compete for the Ms. US Universal title in Aruba.
Meier said she knows the competition will be cutthroat and that she has her stories of girls going to vicious lengths to secure the title.
Her evening gown is currently "under lock and key" and had to be registered with the Ms. US Universal organization. The swimsuit is provided for contestants, and Meier borrowed an Armani suit for her interview from a previous Ms. Montana.
Meier's two sons, Collin, 9, and Evan, 5, have been supportive and excited for their mom.
"They are my No. 1 fans," she said. "I want them to be a big part of it."
Meier said that no matter what happens, she thinks this will be her last pageant.
"With my kids, it's just a lot of stuff to do," she said.
For Meier, the most rewarding part has been helping girls who are experiencing bullying, she said.
"The best part is helping girls. I've gotten so many messages from girls being picked on," she said. "The best part is getting to help someone."
Daily Globe Reporter Alyson Buschena may be reached